First progress report of many. As Collegetown projects go, Novarr-Mackesey’s plan for 209-215 Dryden stands out for a number of reasons.
For one, it calls for a six-story plus basement, 76,200 SF academic/research building to be 100% occupied by Cornell University’s Executive MBA program. No residential or mixed-use to be found here, and given its primary occupancy of office workers and Executive MBA students (who tend to be older, deep-pocketed and will only be coming up from New York a few weeks of the year), not the typical Collegetown crowd either.
For two, this is one of those rare occasions where a Collegetown building under construction is not designed by local firm Jagat Sharma. ikon.5 Architects of Princeton, a John Novarr favorite, penned the steel-and-glass box with its multicolored steel mullions.
By the city’s estimate (from the Site Plan Review form), the construction itself will cost $12 million. From construction loan paperwork filed with the county in December, the total cost, including hard and soft construction costs, will be $15,912,823.33. Wells Fargo Northwest is the lender.
In September, the county approved a payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT)-like tax abatement, taxing the finished building at $5.2 million plus 2% per year. The amount is still more than the ~$1 million value of the original, unimproved properties on the site, and it comes with a 50-year guarantee that Cornell won’t be able to but the property and make it tax-exempt, something that was hinted at a few times in the TCIDA application.
209-215 Dryden will host about 420 Cornell MBA students and staff when it opens in late Spring 2017, later increasing to 600 as Cornell fills out the rest of the square footage. The basement and first three floors will be dedicated classroom/academic space (including 90-person LGI classrooms), and the upper three floors will be office space. A large three-story atrium will mark the building’s primary entrance. At opening, it will be fully leased by Cornell, but only 70% occupied. Sounds like plenty of short-term flex space.
Since December, the site has been cleared of weeds and any remaining debris, and it looks like foundation prep work (excavation) might be starting on the far side of the property away from the streets. Some steel H-beams have been brought to the site, possibly for use in shoring up the site along the excavation perimeter. The H-beams are drilled or driven in at regular intervals, and hold the soil back while the foundation is excavated. A pile driver, tubular piles, an excavator, and a Dynapac compaction roller are on-site. So, the primary duties at hand appear to be excavation of the new building’s foundation, and shoring up the soil surrounding it so that the site remains stable while that work is going on.
As the signage on Novarr’s corner building suggests, Hayner Hoyt Corporation of Syracuse will be the general contractor.